I have been lucky enough to enter the Hay Festival through the artists entrance every year for the last six years. I now feel like I’m part of the ‘Hay Happy Family’ and I’m hatching plans of how I can stay as part of this family for the next six years!

In 2012 I competed in the Green Dragon’s Den held on the Hay on Earth stage. I won the competition and the £10,000 investment enabled me to start my venture, Dung Beetles Direct. This venture now showcases the importance of dung beetles to the UK cattle industry. The grant funded a feasibility study for a piece of research that we published in 2015 showing that dung beetles can save the UK cattle industry an eye-watering £367 million per year! I was invited back to the Hay Festival in 2013 to talk about what I had achieved over the year with Dung Beetles Direct.

In 2014, my partner, Andy Holcroft, founder of the UK’s first edible insect restaurant, Grub Kitchen, was invited to speak at the Landmarc Innovation Hub about his venture.

In 2015 I was sent an e-mail from a new children’s author called M.G. Leonard who had written a debut novel about beetles. She wanted her books to be based on science and asked if I could advise on the entomology (insect science). As I had only recently bought back my old family farm in St Davids, Pembrokeshire, to set up as a research centre and visitor attraction (Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm), I politely declined and apologised for being just too busy to get involved!

As someone who struggles to say “no”, I said she may as well send over the script just in case I had a spare second to read it. One night, when sleep was evading me, I opened up my computer and started reading. Totally hooked, and unable to stop, I emailed M.G. Leonard in the early hours of the morning saying that I would love to help her out with the book: how could I refuse when the story was so awesome?! Beetle Boy was published to great acclaim in 2016 and we spoke together about the book on the Starlight Stage at the Hay Festival. It was the best selling children’s book of the day. The second book in the series, Beetle Queen, was published this year and it’s equally (if not more) brilliant!

M.G. Leonard and I were honoured to be invited back to the Hay Festival for a second year this year but, this time, we came along with Andy from Grub Kitchen and a large batch of cricket cookies! The cricket cookies were in attendance because, after being inspired by Grub Kitchen, M.G. Leonard included a section on eating insects in her book. All 270 cricket cookies were gobbled-up by the audience, who were riveted by the story and the food alike. The event was filmed for the BBC, who are making a programme on us and our cookies which will air on BBC One, on August 7th at 7:30pm.

We were thrilled that Beetle Queen was the second best selling children’s book of the day and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will be invited back next year to talk about M.G. Leonard’s  epic finale: Battle of the Beetles.